Are you one of the average Americans who spend nearly half a day (every day) staring at a computer? If so, chances are at one point you’ve experienced dry or itchy eyes, eye strain, headaches, or blurred vision—this is known as digital eye strain. If you’ve experienced digital eye strain, or are on a digital device for long periods of time, you may benefit from blue light blocking lenses.

What are blue light lenses?

Blue light lenses are specially made lenses that can be worn as contacts or as glasses, with or without a prescription. They can come as transition lenses that automatically adjust from indoor to outdoor lighting, and can be tailored to the distance with which you interact with your digital device(s). They are designed to block or filter out the highest level of visible light, blue light, which can damage your eye the same way ultraviolet light can, (which is why we wear sunglasses).

What’s so bad about blue light?

Blue light can damage the light-sensitive cells in the retina. When this happens, the retina is affected in the same way that macular degeneration affects vision, by causing distortion or loss of central vision. The type of damage caused by blue light may increase the risk for getting macular degeneration later in life. When exposed to blue light before bed, it has been linked to the disruption of sleep and increased fatigue experienced the next day. There are good things about blue light, too, so don’t think we should all be scrambling to get blue light lenses. Being exposed to low levels of blue light can boost alertness, memory or cognitive function. (Think about taking a break and going for a walk and how refreshed you feel after.)  It has also been linked to elevated mood and has been used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The “bad” part of blue light factors in the amount of time people are exposed to it..

43% of US adults report having a job that requires prolonged use of a computer or digital device.

The display screens of computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions, etc., all emit significant amounts of blue light—not as much as the sun, it’s true, but we don’t hold the sun close to our face for long periods of time. It’s that extended usage and how it may be affecting eye health both short- and long-term that’s concerning eye doctors and health professionals.

How do blue light blocking lenses work?

The blue light blocker is actually an anti-reflective coating applied directly to the lenses. The coating is “baked in” as layers incorporated into the structure of the lens itself or painted on your existing lenses. This coating reduces or scatters the amount of light that is reflected from the eye so that more light is transmitted through the lens—helping to amplify contrast (especially on digital devices!), and reduce glare so your eyes don’t work as hard.

When buying blue light glasses, you’ll want to make sure that they block at least 50% of blue light.

Should you wear blue light lenses? Do you spend most of your day on a digital device? Do you have any of the symptoms of digital eye strain? Do you want to own a cool new pair of specs? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the answer is yes! Talk to your optometrist at your next annual eye exam about the amount of time you spend on digital devices. You should also measure the distance from the bridge of your nose to your computer or other digital device. Doing so will allow the glasses to be tailored to your needed prescription. Note that these glasses shouldn’t be used at all times during the day, and can make things like driving or reading a book difficult. Save them for times you’re using technology. With the increased use of electronics, the need to alleviate the bombardment of blue light hitting our eyes will become more and more important.

80% of all vision impairment is preventable and curable.

The best part? Wearing blue light blocking lenses while on your digital device of choice won’t hurt you at all or affect your vision. You may, however, experience better sleep, a more regulated circadian rhythm, less digital eye strain, and reduce your risk for eye diseases such as macular degeneration. There’s nothing wrong with that. Contact us today to learn more about how we can apply blue light coating to your lenses.

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